Pakistan reopens Chaman border for stranded Afghans

Thousands of Afghans were left stranded in the town of Chaman

CHAMAN (AFP): Pakistan today (Saturday) partially reopened its southern Chaman border with Afghanistan, shut off since the Taliban seized control of the strategic border town on the other side.

According to details, thousands of Afghans were left stranded in the town of Chaman after the Taliban captured Spin Boldak from Kabul’s forces on Wednesday. The decision was taken for people crossing the border on foot.

“We have opened the Chaman border, allowing crowds of up to 4,000 Afghans including women and children to cross over to Afghanistan to celebrate Eidul Azha with their families, purely on humanitarian grounds,” a border official told an international news agency.

The official further said, “People would be allowed to cross until the evening, with the possibility the border would open again tomorrow”. A photo journalist said that the gates were rushed by families as soon as they opened.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Tayyab, a local paramilitary official, said the decision was taken because of “relative calm on the other side”, but said the crossing would remain closed to trade.

Qudratullah, who lives in neighbouring Kandahar province in Afghanistan was returning after taking his father to Karachi for a heart bypass. “I have to come back to Pakistan for a routine check-up of my father, but let’s see if I am able to come back or not,” he said.

Afghan forces on Friday launched an operation to try and take back control of Spin Boldak. On Saturday, the Taliban’s white flags could still be seen flying over the crossing.

It follows weeks of intensifying clashes across Afghanistan, with the Taliban capitalising on the last stages of the US troop withdrawal to launch a series of lightning offensives, overrunning districts at a staggering rate.